CHAPTER NEWS – BC

OPEN HOUSEAs part of its Thinking Beyond the Open House series, IAP2 BC hosted a panel discussion on public engagement for architects and engineers. The purpose of the events is to inspire creative community engagement practice for the professions.

A diverse group of 35 P2 practitioners, engineers, architects and students gathered in a private room at the Devil’s Elbow on October 8th to hear lessons learned from some prominent Vancouver architects, sharing their experiences in public involvement.

IAP2 BC-10

These included James K.M. Cheng, C.M. (speaking in the photo at left), one of the architects (in both senses of the word) of “Vancouverism” – the planning concept that focuses on high density with open spaces conducive to social interaction; Ray Wolfe (at bar, left), Stantec’s BC Education Sector Lead, whose work has included the Student Union facilities at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and transforming former CFB Chilliwack into a new campus for the University of the Fraser Valley; and Paul Wilting (right) Division Manager, Collection System Engineering, with Metro Vancouver, whose projects tend to be large-scale efforts serving a region of 2.5 million people: all three are well aware of the importance of having people affected by a project onside.

IAP2 BC Chapter Annual General Meeting

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Stantec, Boardroom
1100 – 111 Dunsmuir Street Vancouver BC
6pm – 8pm 

AGM Schedule:
  • 6:00 Networking & socializing
  • 6:30 Call to Order, Chairs Remarks
  • Minutes of the 2014 AGM
  • Report of Executive Committee
  • Chapter Financials
  • Other Business:
    • Report & Installation of new Executive
  • Meeting Closes
  • 7:00 Presentation: Fail Fest 2015

Don’t miss this opportunity to join your peers in public participation, to enjoy a bite to eat and a glass of wine or cold beer.

There is no better time than an AGM to talk about what works and what does not.

IAP2 BC’s Fail Fest celebrates the role failure plays in moving organizations to change. Join IAP2 BC at their AGM and social for a conversation that is sure to inspire, inform and ultimately change the way P2 practitioners perceive failure in our sector.

Panel members will provide a short description of their project and the lessons they have learned when things did not go as planned. The panel discussion will be followed by a whole group discussion.

CHAPTER NEWS – ATLANTIC

Geoff Wilson
Geoff Wilson

Geoff Wilson, co-chair, Chapter Committee

I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on where we are as the newest chapter of IAP2 Canada. We have been slowly getting our chapter organized. In March, both St. John’s and Halifax hosted meet’n’greets for members and friends of IAP2. In New Brunswick, Luc Richard and Paul Lang introduced IAP2 to a dozen or so curious New Brunswickers at an event on September 17. As a result, Paul and Luc are working to bring IAP2 Foundations to our francophone colleagues.

The Nova Scotians hosted a successful professional development event in Halifax on September 29. EngageNS Chief Engagement Officer Danny Graham spoke to 25 chapter members and guests at a breakfast about the state of engagement in Nova Scotia. Danny talked about the importance of engaging citizens on the big questions facing our society, and he thanked IAP2 for playing a leadership role in championing greater public participation.

As an Atlantic Chapter, obviously we have work to do to build our presence and influence in Prince Edward Island. I will be reaching out to chapter members in the near future for ideas on how we engage Islanders.

There are times when I feel like things are not happening quickly enough for our chapter but when I reflect on what we have accomplished together since March, I can relax a bit. Rome wasn’t built in a day, after all. We have some work to do together as we look ahead and begin to plan for a fully elected board for our chapter.

Thanks everyone for keeping the momentum up.

CHAPTER NEWS – Yukon/North

The emerging Yukon Chapter is seeking feedback from interested Yukoner practitioners and members of the public on what folks want the Chapter to be.  Chapter Founder John Glynn-Morris has built an initial database of 45 people who took the Foundations course earlier this year, took part in the public event in September, government workers who attended a lunch-and-learn and others and has now circulated an online survey to crowd-source interests.  So far, 27 responses has come back.

The survey can be viewed here; other Chapters are welcome to use the survey for their own members.

5th Annual Summit on Public Consultation and Engagement

summit

Once again, IAP2 Canada is pleased to be a partner with Strategy Institute in the Summit on Public Consultation and Engagement. IAP2 Canada members receive a 20% discount on the registration fee. Check out the information and use the promo code IAP20 when registering.

This is an opportunity for you to revolutionize your engagement strategy at the only event in Canada to help you drive engagement and project approval. You’ll find insights from more than 20 top speakers to improve public consultation; you’ll learn from 10 case studies and have more than 8 hours of networking opportunities.

Specially designed for Canadian public consultation professionals, this national forum connects you with industry thought leaders and peers for exclusive knowledge sharing.

  • Tap into the collective wisdom to advance public consultation excellence.
  • Adopt new strategies and tools to reduce stakeholder fatigue, garner public support and expedite approvals.
  • Transform your approach to aboriginal consultation by learning directly from the Chief of the Squamish First Nation.
  • Maximize the effectiveness of your social media strategy and successfully engage with youth
Brenda Pichette, IAP2 Certification Task Force
Brenda Pichette, IAP2 Certification Task Force
Cst. Randall Arsenault, Toronto Police Service.
Cst. Randall Arsenault, Toronto Police Service.

IAP2 Canada’s Brenda Pichette will be among the speakers, discussing P2 Certification and the work of the Certification Task Force; other speakers include Mary Simon, chair of the National Committee on Inuit Education, Tracie Smith of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, and Cst. Randall Arsenault of the Toronto Police Service.

“Research and Practice” – the IAP2 November webinar

As the field of public participation evolves, taking academic research and “lessons learned” and putting that knowledge into practice becomes increasingly important. On Tuesday, November 17* at 3pm (Eastern)/Noon (Pacific), we’ll hear from two leaders in combining the two disciplines.

Fiona Cavanagh is Executive Director of the Centre for Public Involvement — a partnership of the City of Edmonton and the University of Alberta. CPI has been producing research work in a number of fields — particularly engagement at the civic level — and also sees those theories put into practice.

Joining Fiona will be Stephanie Brooks, Public Outreach specialist with Michael Baker International and a member of the US Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Public Involvement in Transportation (ADA60). The Committee works to enhance the understanding and practice of public involvement as an art and science in transportation policy.

For more information and to register, please click here.

*Please note that this is the third Tuesday of the month – not the second, as is our usual practice.

Rewind: “Getting Engaged – Staying Engaged” – the IAP2 October Webinar

Should governments and other public institutions make an effort to “stay in touch” with citizens outside of a specific project that requires public engagement? Our October Webinar looked at two initiatives by the School of Government (SOG) at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill: a blog called CELE — Community Engagement Learning Exchange – in which people from various sectors write on their views and observations and elicit responses from other “ordinary” members of the public; and “Citizens’ Academies” (sometimes called “County University”, “Neighbourhood College” or “City Hall High”) – a way to educate members of the public on the workings of local government.

CELE - The Community Engagement Learning Exchange
CELE – The Community Engagement Learning Exchange

The initiative is overseen by Drs John Stephens and Rick Morse of the SOG. CELE steers a middle course between the “cheese sandwich” blog – “I had a cheese sandwich for lunch today” – and the extreme-view political blog. The idea, says Stephens, is to draw people into a conversation and exchange views and knowledge.

Not that there isn’t controversy. Stephen Hopkins, a community activist in Raleigh-Durham, NC, and former chair of the local NAACP Housing Committee, says he deliberately sets out to provoke people: “I want to get people’s blood boiling enough to want to comment,” he says.

Along with Hopkins, contributors to the blog include Kevin Smith, a civic employee in Raleigh who conceived the idea and brought it to the SOG in the first place; and Brian Bowman, communications director for the town of Knightdale, NC.

So how are these efforts improving the level and quality of P2? CELE is still in its infancy, and one of the metrics is the number of comments on the blog posts. Morse says there are still not enough of those to declare it a success – or not. He and Stephens acknowledge these things take time, but they are certain they’re on the right track.

The Citizens’ Academies are already showing promise, but also have their limitations. Morse says they’re seeing an increase in the proportion of people getting involved in civic affairs and more likely to take part in public engagement efforts when an actual project comes along that needs to be addressed. (Remember that Citizens’ Academies are not driven by a specific project but by general interest in finding out how government works.) One of the limitations is that the Citizens’ Academies tend to be attended by middle-class retired people who have the leisure to take part. Another is that some of the more marginalized people are not able to participate in CELE: Stephens concedes that this is not the best way to reach them.

Check out the blog “CELE” here, and learn more about Citizens’ Academies here. IAP2 Canada members can review the October webinar here.

Tips from the Trainers – Lara Tierney

LARA TIERNEY-2I currently work in engagement (public participation) at The City of Calgary.  I often work with project teams that are new to the concept of public participation or at the very least are not experienced in that area.  Budget and time allowing, it is great to have them take the Foundations of Public Participation training to establish common understanding of what public participation is, why we do it and what is involved.

For the times when that is not a possibility, I find that using the engage! process that The City has developed is very useful. I would like to share the key elements of that process. There are six steps:

  1. Do you need engagement? 

This is a key question that needs to be explored to determine if engagement makes sense for the project at hand.  It often comes down to figuring out if there are decisions that can be impacted by input from public and/or stakeholders.

  1. Develop a plan

Once it has been confirmed that engagement is appropriate, it is critical to develop an engagement plan. This is the road map that outlines the engagement journey that is about to be embarked on.

  1. Tell the story

It is really important to share the background information of the project in order for people to feel they know enough to give meaningful input.

  1. Raise awareness

Take the time to make sure that the people you want to hear from know about the project and the opportunities to provide input. And make sure that is done in enough time that they can make arrangements to participate.

  1. Connect

This refers to actually having the dialogue in an open and authentic manner.

  1. Report back and evaluate

It is important to share what was heard from participants and what was done with the input heard.  As well as taking the time to evaluate the process and outcomes for continuous improvement.

What have you used to help project teams to understand what is involved with a public participation process?  Anything you have found to be particularly useful?  I would love to hear from your experience – you can reach me at lara.tierney@calgary.ca

MEET A MEMBER: Jeff Cook, Principal & President, Beringia Community Planning

Jeff-Cook

Jeff Cook of Beringia Community Planning and the Pikangikum (First Nation) Health Authority were co-recipients of the IAP2 Canada Core Values Award for Indigenous Engagement at the 2015 North American Conference in Portland. Their project, “Working It Out Together”, was a three-year effort to set up a planning framework to address complex mental and physical health issues in the community in Northwestern Ontario. They used a community-driven, “home-made” approach based on local Anishinaabe values. The Comprehensive Community Health Plan was also named Project of the Year.

What got you into P2 in the first place? I finished an undergraduate degree in human geography and political studies at Queen’s with a focus on Latin American studies. I was interested in working in Guatemala on land rights. But close to graduation, I was reluctant about pursuing work in Central America and I started thinking about where I could go in my home country to pursue land-rights issues. The closest context I could think of was the Yukon’s Comprehensive Land Claim process. So I had this notion that I would go up north and find a job with land claims – just find a way of supporting Yukon First Nations and indigenous issues.

The choice of Arctic adventurers
The choice of Arctic adventurers

A good friend of mine and I were looking for adventure, and we decided to travel to Canada’s frontier. Another friend gave us his 1976 Toyota Corolla as a joke and wished us luck in making the journey. He said, “it should get you there.” We had no money (a couple of credit cards) so we just hit the highway and took 7 days to get up there. We worked a couple of seasons in Whitehorse to make money for university and as I was finishing my degree I applied for a job while living in Dawson City, Yukon.  A job opportunity came open with the Tr’ondek Hewchin (pron. TRON-dek hWITCHin) – Han people of the River – as Community Economic Development Officer. I spent 3 years with that First Nation, running their Economic Development Office.

As an Economic Development Officer I got to watch the Land Claims process advance. I didn’t actually do any negotiating, but through that position, I fell in love with participatory community planning, and that became my context for P2. It was when the Nation hired a consultant to complete their economic development strategy, that I was struck by the lack of process: an outsider was coming in and creating a plan for the Nation; I felt the planner should be creating a plan with the Nation.

This was the whole colonial model (of planning and development) that Nations were trying to break away from, and this experience energized me to say, No – community planning has to be done way differently if Nations are to restore community self-governance under the land claim.

I ended up moving to Whitehorse after three years, getting invitations from First Nations individuals and communities to assist with their various planning needs. I built this network of relationships and in 1994, decided in launch Cook and Associates, later incorporating as Beringia Community Planning in 1998 to focus in Indigenous Community Planning. In 2002, I completed my Master’s Degree in Community and Regional Planning at UBC to increase my own understanding and capacity as a community planner to support Aboriginal communities in respectful ways.

What are some challenges you’ve faced, working with First Nations? One of the biggest challenges is understanding the cultural complexity, and working in a different world view and how to relate to Indigenous societies. I quickly learned how western planning and development systems, in my mind, were dysfunctional in their own ways – in the way they imposed authority, structure and processes on Nations. I really related to the Indigenous paradigm and ways of being and knowing and connections to the land and the interconnectivity of all things.

The other challenge is working within the Indian Act system and all government levels. You’re working with oppressed societies that have been marginalized, and see community planning and public engagement as a means to support Nations to re-write their own history. It is an opportunity for First Nations to revitalize and rediscover their cultural systems and identity – an internal reconciliation, if you will — as part of the Nation’s rebuilding process. It’s very exciting to be part, in a very small way, of this grassroots community-based movement.

And I probably have just as much fun and pleasure teaching the non-Indigenous world – mayors and councils, politicians and bureaucrats – what they don’t know about implications of Indigenous history. A lot of people are just naïve and unaware of how Indigenous values, knowledge and decision-making systems.

Community planning is just one mechanism for supporting First Nations’ needs in mobilizing themselves to rise up against the western systems and authority structures.

JEFF COOK PHOTO-1
JEFF COOK PHOTO-2

But you’re an outsider, yourself: how were you received by the Nations? I felt that I was being tested, observed carefully for my tone, language, process – given the historical mistrust, as an outsider and because I was non-Indigenous. That’s only about ten percent of the people I’ve worked with…in general, you have to earn the trust and respect.

I think, by going in with humility and soft leadership – a quiet approach, active listening – I quickly found that once members felt there was some kind of alignment in terms of historical understanding, they were so wanting to open up and tell their story in a safe way. That’s part of the history of the trauma and victimization under the Indian Act, Residential schooling and Reserve system, but once trust was established, members quickly wanted to share and decide a better future together. Some oppressed communities felt community-based planning was a way to let out a lot of emotion, feeling and needs – as a way to lead them to a positive future. It inspired great conversation – hard conversations, but good ones that process decisions based on their values and ways of being and knowing.

Your award for the Pikangikum project was certainly a high point: what other “big wins” have you had? Definitely another health project, in the Liard region in the Yukon: The Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, or LAWS, took the lead on a 3-year health and wellness strategy, tackling addiction on behalf of the Liard First Nation. It was a big process, like Pikangikum, and not a dissimilar situation.

I completed a comprehensive community planning (CCP) process for the Kwikwasut’inuxw Haxwa’mis Nation on Gilford Island. That was a turning point for getting in on the CCP movement: this young Chief came in and said, “No more with the government response. We need to resolve our water, energy and housing issues.” The community had no drinking water, unreliable electricity, and heavy black mould in their houses: people were getting sick. So the Chief said, “Enough’s enough” They wanted to take control back from the government to make life better for the people through community-based planning and public engagement.

Indigenous planning in Canada has a history going back to the 1980s being led by external consultants – taking over from the “Indian Agent”. It’s been a case “we know what you need: give us the money and we’ll do the plan for you.” However, I’ve seen in the past ten years that this is slowly changing, especially in western Canada: we’re changing the way planning is taught, and we hope the next generation of planners doesn’t repeat that history.

A lot of planning companies still follow the colonial paradigm. I feel there’s an ethical, moral and legal obligation to help Nations that need support: help those that ask for support, and let the ones that want to go it alone, do so. We need to figure out what the supporting roles are in a Nation’s rebuilding process and to make sure that community planners are being invited under a Nations own terms.

Are you seeing results from the work you’ve done? There are small, but definite signs of progress. I’m going back to LAWS in November. They’re doing a violence-against-women project, developing a curriculum where young girls will develop skills, tools and language to respond to domestic violence. That vision was one of the hundreds of seeds that grew out of that health plan. Other projects are getting traction and attention as people realize the importance of helping First Nations increase their health and well-being.

On Pikangikum, it’s too early to tell, but you can see the healing that’s resulted from 3 years of coming together in a community-based process. The PFN was able to purchase a cabin infrastructure on Stormer Lake, which had been owned by the Mennonite community. They turned it over to the Nation and it’s being converted to a healing centre based on local values and customs.

If you had anything to say to someone just getting into the P2 business, what would it be? Learn how to practice humility and respect. Having the privilege of being invited into these First Nations communities and places is quite an honour. It’s really inspiring to be with and witness people who are rising up and regaining their identity and strength. The stories of hope are phenomenal and I find it super-inspiring. We have to let go of our own western biases and the way we might do things – just let go of your assumptions and just be open to understanding the world from a different perspective and understanding.

I’d like to thank the Pikangikum First Nation and community members, and the hundreds of people I’ve had the opportunity to work with and learn from over the years – Chiefs, Elders, Adults, Youth and Women – who are inspiring their own communities and families to rise up and strengthen community self-governance. I witness great strength and courage working with Nations across Canada.

Certified-Certificate-Certification?? What’s in a word?

Brenda Pichette, IAP2 Certification Task Force
Brenda Pichette, IAP2 Certification Task Force

Brenda Pichette, of the IAP2 Certification Task Force, explains why having a “Certificate” or attending the “Certificate Course” is not the same as being “Certified”.

Let’s bring some clarity to all of this. As P2 professionals we are starting to see “IAP2 Certification” as a pre-requisite for jobs and a requirement in RFPs. That’s awesome: the public participation world out there is starting to recognize IAP2 as the standard-setter for the practice of P2. IAP2 has been developing and setting standards for the practice of public participation for more than twenty years. Yes, twenty years!

So here is where we are at. The five-day IAP2 “Certificate Program” (now called the Foundations course) offers you a “Certificate of Attendance”, but that is not the same as being “certified”. That’s because to date, there has been no form of assessment to confirm that participants have the ability to apply knowledge and skills covered in the training, and attending the Foundations course cannot cover all the essential competencies in one short week. Again, attending the Foundations Course is not certification.

What is Certification?

Certification is a credential bestowed on an individual who can demonstrate that they have the essential competencies necessary for a profession. Certification requires successful completion of a formal assessment program to confirm an individual’s knowledge and skills. Certification identifies that an individual is qualified to perform a job or task and serves as a professional reference.

Certification often requires completion of specified courses, passing an exam, and/or assessment by an independent panel. Certification is not accreditation or licensing. Those processes have different purposes.

IAP2 is developing a Certification Program and once you successfully complete the three-part assessment you will be certified. The IAP2 Foundations Program is a knowledge prerequisite for the Certification Program. The Foundations Program teaches basic understanding of the important principles and aspects of public involvement, as practiced by IAP2.

Professional certification will both recognize the many individuals who already possess the essential competencies of a P2 practitioner – and provide an achievable goal for people joining our profession.

The Certification program is coming to Canada. If all goes well you will hear an announcement soon. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, please visit the webpage on the Certification Task Force. There, you can watch the webinars that have been developed to help you understand the program, the development and assessment process.

And please …

PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD AND HELP US EDUCATE THE P2 WORLD ABOUT THIS. A certificate of attendance does not equate to certification.

President’s Message – ‘Doing’ P2 Research ‘Together’

Bruce Gilbert, IAP2 President
Bruce Gilbert, IAP2 President

In my last President’s Message (August), I shared my view that P2 professionals need to be proficient at helping organizations better engage their publics, but also highly skilled at helping them to build effective collaborative structures and processes.  I opined that as professionals we need to be able to mentor, coach and support organizations to be effective and ‘smart’ partners given that inter-organizational collaboration is an important and high-order form of P2.  I concluded my Message by suggesting that IAP2 Canada (i.e., Board; Chapters; members; trainers) should consider the possibility of becoming more deeply engaged in ‘collaborative research’ on P2 themes.

What do I mean by ‘becoming more deeply engaged in ‘collaborative research’ on P2 themes’?

What I really mean to say is: let’s work together – and with our partners – to actually ‘do’ some research together on P2 questions, topics or themes of interest to us’ (i.e., knowledge creation).  The operative words for me are ‘together’ and ‘do’.

Yes we should definitely continue our good work to identify, inform ourselves about and share quality P2-related research products (e.g., journal articles; books; reports; case-studies; web-links) developed by others (i.e., knowledge dissemination/mobilization).

Certainly when appropriate and feasible we should continue to take steps to summarize select research products of others so as to make them more easily accessible to others (i.e., knowledge translation).

Most definitely, when resources allow of course, we should also consider retaining and commissioning outside experts to conduct P2-related research on our behalf.

But can’t we also ‘do’ some research ‘together’?

Isn’t IAP2 Canada an incredible repository of experience, knowledge and skill on ‘all things’ P2? Aren’t many of us, among other things, experienced in the art and science of research? Aren’t many of us also connected to experienced researchers, academic institutions and other non-profit entities who may want to work with us on some of our P2 questions and interests? Do we need to wait around for knowledge to be created by others or can we actually create some ourselves?

The answer I believe to all of the above questions is an unqualified ‘yes’.

What is collaborative community-based research (CCBR)?

The notion that non-academic entities can do research is of course not a new one. Non-profits, businesses, industry associations and governments have been ‘doing research’ for a long time. The idea that community agencies, grassroots groups, communities and even citizens working informally together can do research is also not that new, although most people would not likely equate research with such interests.

A number of terms have been coined over the last 5-6 decades to describe a type of research that is not necessarily based in or led by academic institutions (i.e., a type of applied research that is driven more by community interest and need than by academic goals and interests including intellectual curiosity). These terms include: participatory action research; action research; rural rapid appraisal; collaborative research; community-based research; community-university research; and community campus research.

It is beyond the scope of this Message to outline the differences and nuances between these various terms. Suffice to say that there is no ‘gold standard’ definition for any of them.  On the other hand, a number of elements or aspects appear common to most of these terms which for the purposes of this brief Message I am considering to be forms of ‘collaborative community-based research’ (CCBR). Some key aspects or elements that IAP2 types interested in ‘becoming more deeply engaged’ in research might want to consider are:

  • Community-situated: here, “community” can mean many things (not just geographic community); doing CCBR in an IAP2 context would mean ‘involving our own community’ (i.e., whomever is interested such as Chapters, trainers, members and/or partners), not just as possible research subjects, but as question-identifiers, project-designers, data collectors/analyzers, report-writers and results-sharers (Note: to the degree participants desire of course);
  • Rigorous and high-quality: just because an academic institution is not ‘leading or initiating’ a research project doesn’t mean that those involved need to abandon commonly-accepted and known research approaches, practices and protocols that can ensure rigorous and high-quality results; nonetheless, having an academic partner or research specialist involved as a collaborator on a CCBR project makes good sense as they can ensure projects are designed to a high standard;
  • Action-oriented: when CCBR is employed, it is usually because those involved want to change something (e.g., improve a program, process or policy; find a solution to a challenge or problem; identify trends so as to improve activities or change direction);
  • Collaborative: a typical CCBR project involves varied groups or interests (often from across multiple sectors if the theme or question under study is particularly complex) all of whom are interested in finding answers to an agreed upon question; CCBR projects often see academics, non-profit leaders, business champions and/or government officials ‘doing research’ together (e.g., sometimes as an informal body that guides those tasked with the actual ‘doing’; other times with their shirt sleeves rolled up digging deep into the ‘doing’);
  • Useful and practical: people and groups involved in this form of research usually want and expect that the results of their efforts will be useable and if applicable acted upon; they also understand that if those with the actual institutional power to take action on an issue are involved in the knowledge creation process, the likelihood that results will be used is greatly enhanced;
  • Mostly modest (scale, scope, cost, time): given many of the other aspects noted above such as the desire for action (e.g., community members trying to solve an urgent problem) and timeliness (e.g., government officials under pressure interested in determining the best course of action on a sensitive issue), many CCBR projects tend to be limited in scale and scope (e.g., they tend to focus on a well-defined question related to a clearly defined issue; they don’t tend to be long-term multi-part efforts that address large geographical areas although comparisons between different geographic areas via case-study research is certainly possible); related to this, many CCBR efforts are relatively inexpensive as well (i.e., because they tend to be of limited reach, they tend to be of modest duration and thus relatively inexpensive).

So if people within the IAP2 Canada family were interested in actually ‘doing’ research on a P2 theme or question, how would they start?

Firstly, they would need to establish that they have a question or interest-area related to P2 for which they do not have an answer/solid understanding (e.g., why do certain people attend public sessions in our region but not others (is it really a lack of babysitting services)? Why do some types of P2 activities appear more popular or successful than others? How can we better design P2 processes such that rural and remote communities’ in our region can better participate? What external factors tend to positively or negatively impact our P2 efforts and can anything be done about them?).

They would also need to ask themselves the question, ‘If we had answers to the question(s) we are considering, or if we had additional information related to our theme-of-interest, what would we do with this information and would it (likely) make any difference to anyone?

If the answer to the question above was ‘yes,’ then they would next need to gather together individuals or groups who may have an interest or a possible stake in the question/ topic and form a research-project mini-team. Its first real task would be to identify and refine a ‘researchable’ question (Note: this is where an experienced researcher can sometimes be very helpful).

Once a solid research question has been framed, the group would then develop a project-design that makes sense (e.g., its affordable; it can it be done in the time available; it employs sensible tools or instruments given the question/topic; it considers the benefits of and drawbacks associated with mixing tools and methods?). Decisions about who is collecting and analyzing data (i.e., team members? students? hired guns?), who is actually developing the insights, conclusions, generalizations and recommendations that will comprise the results, and who is going to mobilize the use of such findings, would need to be made.

So what and why bother?

The people within the IAP2 Canada family know a heck of a lot about P2. Many live and breathe it every day. Many are extremely well-read on the topic. Some are training others on a regular basis in this work. Many know enough about research tools, instruments, methods and designs to develop effective projects that can certainly shed light on and improve our practice.

IAP2 Canada as an entity, I believe, has a responsibility to mobilize knowledge about P2. This means using and mobilizing the work of others (which we do), occasionally commissioning special research work (which we do), but also generating and creating some of the work ourselves (I think we could do more). There are lots of academics willing to support IAP2-generated CCBR projects. There are a number of national and regional organizations and institutes likely willing to support or partner on smart initiatives including: Community-Based Research Canada; the Waterloo-based Center for Community Based Research; and the Edmonton-based Center for Public Involvement. There are also community sector and business partners in the community likely willing to participate. There are even potential funding sources such as Mitacs out there waiting for your/our call.

In closing, working collaboratively with our colleagues and partners to better understand P2 is a good way to build professional networks, improve our practice and grow both IAP2 Canada and the P2 movement in this country. Anyone can start a CCBR project – an individual, a Chapter or the IAP2 Board itself. As some of you may know, IAP2 Canada has a research committee led by the formidable former IAP2 Canada Board member Maria deBruijn. Among other things, the committee is exploring the broad question ‘where to with research in IAP2 Canada?’ It is also exploring the possibility of collaborative research work with IAP2 USA. In this regard, if you have ideas about P2 research you would like to share please make yourselves known to Maria or me – contact info@iap2canada.ca